JOHNSON BEATS FORCE IN FUNNY CAR FINAL AT CSK NATIONALS In a Funny Car final round in which both drivers lost traction, Tommy Johnson Jr. had just enough race car to get to the finish line ahead of defending champion John Force in the 22nd ...
JOHNSON BEATS FORCE IN FUNNY CAR FINAL AT CSK NATIONALS
In a Funny Car final round in which both drivers lost traction, Tommy Johnson Jr. had just enough race car to get to the finish line ahead of defending champion John Force in the 22nd annual Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.
Johnson, who hadn't beaten Force in six previous final round meetings, used a 5.225 second effort at 149.76 miles per hour to hold off the 13-time series champion whose Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lost traction early in the run and then tried to play catch-up.
For Force, it was a disappointing finish, but one that elevated him to second place in POWERade points after the first two 23 NHRA events. Ron Capps, who Force beat in a key semifinal race, will carry the points lead to Gainesville, Fla.
Neither of the other two Team Castrol Funny Car drivers advanced beyond the first round. No. 1 qualifier Eric Medlen, who drove the Castrol SYNTEC Mustang to a best-of-the event time of 4.707 seconds during the preliminaries, lost to Scott Kalitta and Robert Hight, who came in as the points leader in the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford, was Johnson's initial victim.
Team Castrol Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 7th at 4.742 seconds, 289.88 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Gilbertson, Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps; lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Notable: Moved into second place in NHRA POWERade points and extended to 371 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified a Castrol GTX Funny Car.
Quotable: "We struggled this weekend. It got hot and we just didn't have a car like we had at the Winternationals but, bottom line, we got it to the final and we moved up in points. Not too bad."
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.707 seconds, 321.96 mph.
Race results: Lost to Scott Kalitta.
Notable: Claimed sixth Skoal Showdown No. 1 qualifying award of his career.
Quotable: "It dropped a cylinder, then picked it up again but, by then, he was by me. It was pretty disappointing, especially after qualifying as well as we did. But we know we've got a fast car. It's just the consistency that' s got us down a little."
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.729 seconds, 326.08 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Notable: Surrendered the POWERade points lead to Ron Capps.
Quotable: "We were just way too aggressive and it blew the tires off (lost traction)."